A strong surge in intermodal traffic pushed Kansas City Southern’s net profit up 60 percent to $52 million in the fourth quarter, extending a strong string of profit reports from North American railroads.
That gain from a year earlier would be 82 percent, the company said, when excluding debt retirement costs for the latest quarter.
Revenue grew 18 percent to $479 million, “reflecting continued improvement in economic conditions in the markets served,” said KCS, the smallest of the U.S. Class I freight railroads with widespread operations in Mexico plus its U.S. lines. Freight volume increased 12 percent to 488,800 loads.
Intermodal traffic rose 24 percent from a year earlier, while revenue on that business grew 28 percent to leave intermodal its third-strongest cargo for total receipts behind coal and grain. Metals and scrap volume surged 43 percent while sales in that group jumped 37 percent. Automotive traffic edged 1 percent higher but its 41 percent revenue gain was the largest increase for any category from the 2009 quarter.
For all of 2010, revenue rose 23 percent to $1.8 billion even though Hurricane Alex blew away a lot of third quarter business. Unit volume rose 15 percent from 2009 and net profit for the full year tripled to $169 million.
“A solid fourth quarter capped off a year in which KCS’ 2010 linehaul revenues exceeded 2008 levels,” said Executive Chairman Michael R. Haverty. He said KCS “KCS will continue to deliver attractive volume and revenue growth as well as sustaining a high level of operating performance in 2011.”
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